Where have all the dreamers gone?
The picture and quote above was shared from a friend of mine who has been an inspiration to me personally. She quit her job to travel abroad for several months. Her husband was getting ready to begin pilot school in a few months and they didn’t have any kids yet and they figured, now is the time. She saw this in a coffee shop during her travels in Brazil. There seems to be something unexplainably serendipitous that happens when we follow our bliss into unknown territory. Signposts just seem show up that appear to be speaking directly to us.
I recently saw a new movie in theaters that did just that: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The main character, Walter works for Life Magazine. He has given 16 years of hardworking, loyal service to his employer. He is viewed as responsible and stable by his family and friends. Yet, he finds himself mentally, “checking or zoning out” for moments of his day where his imagination runs wild.
I found myself reminiscing to long forgotten daydreaming days and wondered; when did those stop? When did I start seeing life as series of checklists instead of an exploration and adventure? When did we start to adopt the idea that the pursuit of life was to strive for more money and accumulate more stuff? What happened to the of the pursuit of happiness?
It seemed fitting today to take time to reflect on where our dreams have gone in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. I wonder if we all were to share our, I have a dream speech; what would yours and mine sound like?
I think maybe we put our dreams aside after the taste of hurt and disappointment when our dreams don’t come true. It is painful to feel we have failed after putting ourselves out there. Perhaps at that point we start fearing our dreams instead of embracing them. Then we start pursuing security and safety not only emotionally and mentally, but in my interpretation, financially. We strive to create a life where we believe that if we build enough layers of armor around us, it will protect us from ever being vulnerable again.
As much as we try to escape being vulnerable, to live is to be vulnerable. And it is exhausting running from reality. Reality always wins. It has helped me to remind myself, there are some pretty substantial perks to being vulnerable. Being vulnerable is what allows us to feel joy, love and laughter. Isn’t this what is meant by the motto, the best things in life are free?
I may crave stability and safety, but I also crave adventure and challenge. Yet I find myself feeling in a vice lately where my longing for safety is acting as a blanket covering my growing desire for adventure. The blanket is beginning to feel less warm and cozy, if I dare say, a bit suffocating. At some point I have to ask myself, is comfort and security more important than my sense of adventure?
In the movie, Walter goes to create on online dating profile and finds himself empty handed when filling out the noteworthy experiences or accomplishments section. This realization becomes the trigger he needs to propel him to jump on a plane to Greenland. He took a step and his story began to unfold.
It only takes one step to begin moving in the direction of our dreams. One courageous step that will be met with fear and trepidation, yet what possibilities could we miss out on if we don’t try? For myself, without a healthy dose of fear, I lack the fuel to change and too easily revert to my comfort zone.
As for me, I don’t know who came up with the idea that we should devote 40 hours of each week at work. I am cutting back to 32 this month, giving myself some space for some long overdue daydreaming and adventure.